|Year : 2022 | Volume
| Issue : 4 | Page : 262
Feeding Your Child – Parental Perceptions and Pediatrician's Problems
Department of Pediatrics, Chettinad Hospital and Research Institute, Chettinad Academy of Research and Education, Chennai, Tamil Nadu, India
|Date of Submission||23-Jul-2022|
|Date of Decision||29-Oct-2022|
|Date of Acceptance||29-Oct-2022|
|Date of Web Publication||29-Nov-2022|
Dr. Jaishree Vasudevan
Department of Pediatrics, Chettinad Hospital and Research Institute, Chettinad Academy of Research and Education, Chennai, Tamil Nadu
Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None
|How to cite this article:|
Vasudevan J. Feeding Your Child – Parental Perceptions and Pediatrician's Problems. Indian Pediatr Case Rep 2022;2:262
“If music be the food of love, play on.” Indian parents may or may not know their Shakespeare, but they certainly believe in a closely drawn parallel (with due apologies to the great bard), “If food be the proof of love, feed on.” Indian culture is well known for treating guests as God and offering them the best of food. When one can do this for guests who stay with us merely for a few days, why would parents not want to feed (or overfeed) their beloved young ones as proof of their underlying love?
As a pediatrician, I have had several “encounters” with parents who are worried about the food habits of their healthy-looking toddlers. You frequently hear about how the child was doing well till 6–9 months of age, stopped eating, and has now (according to them) become woefully thin. “Doctor, all my relatives ask me why I am not feeding my child?” is the mother's usual grievance and you respond with your usual platitudes of reassurance. The grandmother will balefully glare at, and blame the hapless mother with a snarky, “She spends an hour to feed her child, and he eats only a few mouthfuls.” These complaints are followed by contradictory statements by the worried mother (and nowadays, equally anxious father), “He hardly eats anything, but is so active that he wears me out. I don't know where he gets his energy from.” I proceed to tell them that their child is healthy, they shouldn't worry as he is growing well, and it is they who require extra energy. I know they don't believe me!
Then, you have parents who continue to “feed on” their overtly obese children despite your repeated caution and instruction, “Please cut down on junk food, sugar, and deep fried snacks.” “Oh Doctor, my child hardly eats anything,” is the standard reply. You wonder at their blatant disregard for the laws of science, and how their child can create such a lot of matter from nothing at all. “Okay, you must encourage him to play and be active every day” – you say. “He wants me to play with him, but I just don't have the time!” laments the fond parent or “You tell him, doctor - he doesn't listen to me, and will not stop watching TV!”
Another common remonstrance heard when you diagnose a child with an upper respiratory tract infection is “I told her not to eat ice cream/sweets/banana, but did she listen?” Again you wonder, with so much information circulating regarding airborne/droplet infections following the pandemic, why do parents still associate food with coughs and colds? One often hears about foods that are “hot,” foods that are “cold” and foods that can do all sorts of magic. And now with easy access to Dr. Google, you also hear about exotic food previously available only in the West or the extremely rich. “Doctor, my daughter is so constipated. Do you think prunes soaked in hot water will help her?” or “Doctor my son refuses to eat broccoli or flax seeds. Can you prescribe something to make him eat those?” or the most frequent plea, “I need you to write a 'good' tonic that will make my child eat!”
However easy as it is to poke fun at caregivers, one must not forget that it is their love and concern for the child that is their driving force. We are all familiar with a bygone era of joint families where multiple siblings ate, got schooled, and grew up without any bother. Today, most nuclear families have a single child or two. And each child has two devoted parents who only want the best for them. We, as pediatricians must show them that when it comes to unhealthy food or eating habits, “more is not merrier,” “bigger is not better,” and “strength does not lie in numbers.”
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Conflicts of interest
There are no conflicts of interest.